Besides the Aedes Aegypti mosquito — the main culprit behind the spread of chikungunya — somebody from the human species too will have to stand up and take responsibility for the chikungunya outbreak in the national capital.
Who is going to own up the failure to prevent this civic disaster that has claimed 12 lives till date — will it be the Aam Aadmi Party-led Delhi government, the Centre or the city’s municipal bodies?
While political war of words continues over the outbreak of vector-borne disease that has virtually taken the shape of an epidemic, the residents of Delhi are at the receiving end.
Even after 12 deaths and an exponential surge in the cases of chikungunya, which has crossed the thousand mark, the government and the Municipal Corporations of Delhi (MCDs) have been claiming that there’s no outbreak and people needn’t panic, as the situation is "under control".
The question that’s doing the rounds in the national capital is – who will finally deal with the menace – the Centre, the Delhi government or the municipal corporations of Delhi (MCDs)?
What the Centre says?
Addressing a press conference after a review meeting on Wednesday, Union Health Minister JP Nadda said the Centre has assured the Delhi government of providing every kind of support to combat the crisis.
“As chikungunya has always been a dominant issue in Delhi, the central government has issued 11 advisories and conducted three video conferences on vector-borne diseases with state health ministers, including Delhi. The urgent need is to prevent breeding of mosquitoes. Both government and individual citizens have to ensure that there shouldn’t be any water-logging and accumulation of garbage in any area or home,” said Nadda.
“I have spoken with Delhi’s Health Minister Satyendra Jain and he told me that the Delhi government has been working as per the protocol. I’ve assured him of all kind of support from the Centre. There is no dearth of medicines and testing facilities. Following the deaths of chikungunya patients, we have asked for a detailed report from Delhi government,” he added.
What Delhi government says?
Immediately after returning from Goa, Delhi Health Minister Satyendra Jain in a press conference claimed, “There is no outbreak (of chikungunya). It has been created by you (media) by spreading panic. We had made all the preparations to deal with any outbreak situation four-five months ago, but the Delhi government-appointed health secretary was suddenly transferred by the L-G. And, the new health secretary appointed by Najeeb Jung has been given a 15-day leave at a time when dengue and chikungunya are on the rise. This has paralysed our health system.”
While, Jain slammed the three BJP-led MCDs, another senior official in Delhi government told Firstpost, “Who’s responsible for keeping the capital clean, free from garbage and ensure no water-logging takes place? It’s the MCDs, but they have failed in their duty. It has resulted in the breeding of mosquitoes, as fogging machines don’t work.”
What Delhi Municipal Corporation Act 1957 says?
“Delhi Municipal Corporation Act 1957 clearly mentions that it’s the primary responsibility of the MCDs to keep the city clean of garbage. These municipal corporations get funds from Delhi government to tackle vector-borne diseases,” the official added.
According to Delhi government’s Department of Health, following measures have been taken to deal with vector-borne diseases:
- Additional 1,000 beds for fever patients have been dedicated in Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality Hospital, Janakpuri Super Speciality Hospital and Deep Chand Bandhu Hospital.
- Dedicated fever clinics in 26 hospitals, 262 Delhi government dispensaries and 106 mohalla clinics.
- ‘DHS Control Room’ established with helpline number 011-2230 7145 for public assistance.
- Directions to hospitals to prepare a platelet registry and maintain adequate blood supply in blood banks.
- Dengue task force constituted.
- Inter-sectoral coordination and review meetings with local municipal bodies and departments concerned.
The ground report suggests that residents in a large number of localities have severe grievances against the condition of cleanliness and unhygienic condition prevailing in south, east and north Delhi.
“In my family of six, four have been suffering from chikungunya. The drains in our area are overflowing as the sewer lines are choked due to garbage. It’s a breeding ground for chikungunya and dengue mosquitoes. There’s hardly any cleaning or fogging by MCD in this area,” complained Rajeeb Das, a resident of Govindpuri in south east Delhi.
A shopkeeper near Max Hospital at Patparganj quipped, “Over the last fortnight the dirty water with foul smell from septic tanks has been overflowing on the street, but there’s no one to take care. Is our municipal body listening?”
What MCDs say?
MCD South mayor, Shyam Sharma alleged that there had been a constraint of funds as Delhi government didn’t provide funds meant for school education, health, community hall, etc.
“Every responsibility is that of the Delhi government. The municipal bodies are under the jurisdiction of state government and not the Centre. But, the AAP government’s only job is to tell lie and level false allegations against everyone from President, PM and L-G to MCDs. They don’t give us fund. We diverted funds from other heads to buy fogging machines and 12 mobile dispensary vans. We’re not called in the meetings. Instead of tackling the situation, Arvind Kejriwal and his ministers are either travelling abroad or to Punjab and Goa. Hardly 10 days ago, the Delhi government put up billboards displaying photos of Kejriwal and a mosquito to create awareness. Why waste money in advertisements?” he questioned.
“Despite lack of funds, the MCDs have been trying its best to clear garbage from streets, pay sanitation workers and simultaneously combat spread of vector-borne diseases in Delhi. While, the entire city has been reeling under chikungunya and dengue, the CM never had time even for an hour to visit any hospital to take stock of the situation,” Sharma told Firstpost.
MCD East mayor Satya Sharma said despite allegations against the MCDs, it’s they who have been actually performing the field work.
“Instead of allegations and counter-allegations, it’s time for all of us to work united and combat chikungunya and dengue outbreak for the betterment of Delhi public. Even, if we have to divert funds from other heads, we’ll do it for the purpose,” she added.